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A Guide to Academia: Getting into and Surviving Grad School, Postdocs and a Research Job

ISBN: 978-1-118-31715-0
December 2011, Wiley-Blackwell
A Guide to Academia: Getting into and Surviving Grad School, Postdocs and a Research Job (1118317157) cover image
A Guide to Academia is a handbook for all those individuals thinking seriously about going to graduate school. Written by an author with extensive experience navigating the academic world, the book explains all the steps and potential bumps in the road that a student might encounter as they take the plunge into academia. Each chapter begins with a section called the "hard truth," which will help students determine if they are on the right path. Starting with an undergraduate student looking for a graduate school, the reader is taken on a journey up the academic ladder through graduate studies, a postdoctoral fellowship and an assistant professorship. Each chapter gives advice on not only how to survive the current stage but how to get to the next stage quickly. Enhanced with material from the author's own job applications and interview presentations, A Guide to Academia provides concrete examples of the tools needed for a successful career in academia.
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Preface xi

Acknowledgments xiii

1 Preparing for Entering Academia 3

The Hard Truth About the Academic Life 3

Getting a Head Start as an Undergraduate Volunteer 5

The Undergraduate CV 7

Finding Your Research Interests 7

Summary 8

2 Applying for Graduate School 9

The Hard Truth About Applying to Grad Schools 9

Master’s Degree versus Ph.D. 11

Apply to People not Programs; and Finding a Good Fit 12

Contacting Professors 14

The Graduate Application 16

Statement Letter 17

Graduate Record Exam (GRE) 19

Write a CV 20

Reference Letters 21

Get aWebsite/Cards 21

Recruitment Weekend 22

Summary 23

3 Graduate School 25

The Hard Truth About Grad School 25

Seminars 28

Tool Up Early 35

The Notebook and the Pencil 36

Different Kinds of Advisors 36

Candidacy 37

Working with Other Graduate Students 40

Classes 41

Publications 42

Being a Teaching Assistant 45

Tips on Managing Your Time 46

Picking a Dissertation Topic and Writing Your Thesis 51

Choosing a Committee 52

Grants and Thesis Proposals 53

Meetings/Societies 54

Knowing When to Finish 56

Summary 57

4 Finding a Postdoctoral Position 61

The Hard Truth About Finding a Postdoc 61

Types of Postdocs 63

What a Postdoc Does 65

A Postdoc That’s Not a Postdoc 65

Summary 66

5 Postdoctoral Positions 67

The Hard Truth About Postdocs 67

Being the New Guy or Gal in the Lab 68

Advisors 69

Running Out of Time 71

Summary 73

6 Applying for Jobs 75

Applying for Jobs 75

Applications 76

Job Interviews 78

Research Presentations 83

Typical Questions You Are Asked in a Job Interview 85

Not Getting the Interview/Job 86

Getting an Offer 87

Summary 88

7 Assistant Professor 89

The Hard Truth of Being an Assistant Professor 89

Negotiating Start-Up 90

Other Considerations Before You Actually Start Your New Job 93

How to Spend Your Money and What to Expect 96

The First Year 97

Hiring People (Technicians, Students) 98

Finding Graduate Students 100

Making a New Course 102

Service 105

Getting Your First Grant 106

Getting Papers Out 109

Mentoring Committees, Reviews 110

Tenure Package and Reviews 110

Summary 112

8 Special Considerations forWomen and Minorities, and Balancing Work and Family 115

The Hard Truth About Being a Minority in Science 115

The Hard Truth About Being aWoman in Science 116

The Two-Body Problem 119

Balancing Work and Family 119

Appendices 121

1 Example Undergraduate Curriculum Vitae 123

2 Example Graduate Student CV 126

3 Example Thesis Proposal 131

4 Example Job Cover Letter 138

5 Example Research Interests for Job Application 141

6 Example C.V. for Job Application 146

7 Example Teaching Statement and Philosophy for Job Application 154

8 Example Extra Statement for Job Application (Curatorial Statement) 157

9 Example Chalk Talk for Job Interview 160

10 Example Start-UpWish List 162

11 Review Package Summary Presentation 165

Glossary 167

Index 173

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“Overall, this is a useful, practical handbook on academic careers in any specific discipline as well as nonscience fields.  Summing Up: Recommended.  All students, researchers/faculty, and professionals." (Choice, 1 December 2012) 

“The comprehensive overview A Guide to Academiaprovides will be useful to any scientist embarking on a career in academia.”  (Science, 8 June 2012)

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